Spotlight on the Clean Livestock Policy once again

The poor weather of late is making life tricky for farmers who are finishing lambs outdoors, as ground conditions deteriorate.

As ground conditions get softer and lambs get dirtier, the chance of lambs falling under category C (unacceptable for slaughter) of the Clean Livestock Policy (CLP) is likely to increase.

Farmers who are finishing lambs outdoors, particularly those who are finishing lambs on winter crops, are more at risk of not complying with the CLP regulations and possibly facing charges from factories who deem lambs unacceptable for slaughter.

To get an insight into what is acceptable and what isn’t, we take a look at the CLP in more detail (below), which includes images of each category.

Clean Livestock Policy

The CLP for sheep was introduced in 2016 and it’s a three-category system. Under the policy, sheep are classified as being satisfactory (Category A), acceptable (Category B) or unacceptable (Category C).

It was introduced to “significantly improve performance in relation to the cleanliness of incoming sheep” to Department of Agriculture approved slaughter plants.

Category A:

  • These are sheep with a clean and dry fleece that can be slaughtered, with an unacceptable risk of contaminating the meat during the slaughter process, by using the standard hygienic dressing procedure routinely employed by the plant.

Category B:

  • Sheep in this category are classified as having a moderate soiling of fleece that can only be slaughtered, without an acceptable risk of contamination of the meat during the slaughter process, by putting in place additional interventions. This includes extra defined dressing controls.

Category C:

  • These are sheep with a heavily-contaminated fleece unfit for slaughter. These sheep must not be presented for ante-mortem in this condition and it is the responsibility of the FBO (food business operator) to take the required remedial action.

In the gallery (below) each category (A, B and C) is pictured. Click on a thumbnail in the gallery to open up a full-size image; once opened you can scroll sideways to see the next picture.

What can farmers do?

To help reduce the risk of sheep falling into the latter category – Category C – the department offers farmers the following advice:

  • Tail dock lambs in the first seven days of life;
  • Implement a control programme to reduce scouring;
  • Move finishing lambs to clean pasture when conditions become muddy;
  • In straw-bedded sheds, use adequate straw and replenish regularly;
  • Poor transport conditions may result in animals becoming contaminated and failing to achieve required cleanliness specification. Vehicles should be roofed (where possible) and well ventilated;
  • Ensure the vehicle is clean; dry; and disinfected before loading;
  • Only clean sheep should be sent to the slaughter plant.